The Adagba of Iyanfoworogi, Osun State, Oba Adetayo Oladele, was crowned in 2018. The US-returnee, in this interview by TUNDE BUSARI, takes a retrospective look at his one year on the throne, his relationship with the Ooni of Ife, Oba Enitan Ogunwusi and other issues. Excerpts
Findings revealed that your father played a key role in your life as a child. Can you recall this role?
Your findings must have seen that my father played a key role in all his children. And what was the role? He ensured that we took our education serious. He would always tell us the implication of dropping out of school due to misconduct. He did not have opportunity to attend school because he was 10 years old and only 10 days in primary school when his father died. That incident caused a permanent setback to him. But when he grew up and had us, he would always impress it upon us that anyone without western education would be servant to his colleagues who were educated. That message usually rang a bell in our ears and became an anthem of sorts.
What was the result of his efforts over you and your siblings?
Without knowing it, he became our motivator, inspiring all of us to be educated to reasonable level. My brothers are even more educated than I am. We thank God for the father we had. He was the Sooko, the head of Adagba royal family until he passed away.
To what extent are you passing same lessons he taught you to your children?
I am doing my best in that regard, and that is the truth. I am bringing up my children in the US to have to maintain their identity. The result of this was recently witnessed at the convocation of my son which graduated as a Computer Engineer. My son dressed in our attire complete with beads and a staff. He felt he needed to showcase Yoruba to the world, and he was better off for being a cynosure in that costume. In fact, we had to take the staff he held to him from here. It will be difficult now to eraze that convocation from his memory. I am very happy that my children are growing to appreciate their father’s culture. Their mother also deserves commendation for her cooperation. For instance, I sat my son down and told him of the need to learn how to manage human resources now he is out of the college. That should be his priority instead of concentrating his energy on Computer he had learnt and passed.
I learnt you also showed interest in the race to the Ooni stool in 2015?
It is true. I was part of the process at its early stage. But I had to withdraw after some clarification, which said it was not the turn of our Lafogido ruling house.
How did you feel when the verdict came out?
I felt okay. My philosophy has always remained that there should not be bitterness on succession issue. Only one destined to wear the crown will emerge. And when he emerges, other contestants should see and accept him as father and move on with their lives. It should not be a do-or-die thing. Unfortunately, many don’t see it from my perspective. They take it as a war which they must fight to the finish. This is not progressive. It brings backwardness to the town. I want you to imaging all contestants pulling their resources together to support the king. The town will rise instantly. So, I was satisfied, not even knowing that it won’t take much time for me to become the Adagba. You can now see how God does His work. There should not be desperation in anything we do. This life is not worth taking everything as war.
How does your relationship with the Ooni of Ife, Oba Ogunwusi look like since you became the Adagba despite your once being in contest with him?
We have a perfect relationship, which is beyond imagination. He is fond of me, so to say, calling me and asking me to do one or two things on his behalf. I just returned from Los Angeles, US, where I had gone to represent him at an event. It was in November. When he was in Canada early in the year too, I went to meet with him. He was happy to see me.
Let us talk about your royal house, Adagba. How did it come into being?
Adagba was created by the immediate past Ooni of Ife, Oba Okunade Sijuwade. The first Adgba was Oba AdegboluFatunmise. He was a popular traditional ruler.
How many princes contested with you?
We were five altogether from my ruling house.
Did you see yourself becoming an Oba long before you did?
The closest to it was some occasions in my dream when I would find myself on our farmland and also see beautiful scenery of cities. I was taking note of these dreams but did not give them a serious thought until the time came. As I said earlier, I am not a desperate person. I work very hard and believe I would get whatever I want through that dint of hard work. Showing desperation in any form has never been part of me. And I don’t like to be around any desperate person because they are so predictable. My late father had given me enough lessons on how to live meaningful life without putting one under unnecessary apprehension. So, I wasn’t losing any sleep over Obaship issue when it came. I emerged naturally, and to God be the glory.
What exactly do you tell the Oonirisa or he tells you in your private chat?
I am telling you of a traditional ruler who is full of ideas; ideas of how to grow and take Yoruba nation along. He is so passionate about Yoruba unity. And I am very happy that he is achieving it steadily. He might not get 100 per cent now because of the challenges involved, he looks good to achieve it for us. There is nothing like having a truly united Yoruba nation. We are overdue for it.
From your own experience, do you think Yoruba unity is realisable with our level of western education, in particular?
There is nothing that is not possible. But we need to show readiness for the unity.
What do you observe is the real clog in the wheel of the unity?
My observation might be different from your own or that of any other person. I see ego as an important reason we are not getting it right, as regard the unity. Individual pride tends to heat up the polity and cause unnecessary rivalry. In such situation, there is no way unity can be achieved because everyone wants to claim superiority over others. I may be wrong but that is my observation based on your question.
You should have solution to the problem because it is a fundamental one?
My suggestion is that we should bury this ego and start to do things in common. We should use our numerical strength and good environment for the development of the nation. Countries which are ruling the world today are no longer on ego war. They are into healthy rivalry over technological breakthrough. If this country produces an item today, tomorrow another country wants to produce a better version. Yet another will buy the product and improve on them to make the best. That is what I mean by healthy rivalry.
When you ascended the throne you promised to make Iyanfoworogi economic hub. How far have you gone with this dream?
I came to the throne with vision and mission to transform the town to a commercial centre. I am still on my vision and mission but it is going to be a gradual movement. The town has been denied electricity for the past years. We are working on how to restore power to the town which has about 12 communities. Before I came to the throne I was the Financial Secretary of the Ife Ooye in North America comprising US, Canada and Mexico. Through that, a medical mission came in April and provided medical services to about 350 people. Free test, free medication and free eye glasses were given to the people. We have built a small hall which is in use now. Mr Akin Olukani, a friend also dug a borehole for us. I am grateful for the support being received from Baba Oba, Bunmi Adegoke, the Sooko Olojo, who succeeded my father. He has been a pillar, doing things in transparent manner. Engineer Kunle Omisore, Dr Niyi Egbedoyi, my brothers and sisters are also all supportive in the past one year on the throne.